April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 12 July 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490712-TC-MAC-01; CL 24: 116-117


Kilkenny, 12 july, 1849—

My dear Mother,

Here I am safe since the night before last (since Tuesday night, that is), in the house of Dr Cane, Mayor of the City, a very worthy and certainly a very hospitable man, tho' he had to rub shoulders with the authorities lately for his Repeal Affairs, and is not many months yet out of prison.1 Duffy waited me here after my visit to the Fitzgeralds; yesterday we saw all about this ancient singular-looking place; saw Poor-Houses (with 3,000 in them, a pretty batch!), saw round Towers, Cathedrals, Ormond Castles, a market day and cobblers mending country people's shoes on the street.2 I sent you a Newspaper last night; Jane will probably forward a letter I wrote to her.— In the Evening was a dinner, consisting chiefly of repealers in no great number, rather foolish kind of men: the Doctor himself is a considerate grave person, and thinks of what he is doing, which is rare here.— My ink is run out, so I will write the rest in pencil, which Jack will be able to read!—

After dinner yesterday, I suppose about 8 or nearer 9 o'clock, I took myself up stairs to my room for a whiff of 'bacco; and then, being very weary, and much out of sleep, I flung myself down to rest for 5 minutes before going down to join the company: but behold, in the course of that five minutes I fell sound asleep, and at 1 in the morning for the first time Duffy was awakening me to a sense of my situation! Nothing more opportune could have befallen, for sleep was of all things the thing I wanted, and as I pretty soon fell asleep again, and so continued till about 6 this morning,—and then awoke a much refreshed man. It is now towards 8; I have as good as done all my packing, will finish this, and still have time to shave before breakfast which is at 9. After that, we set out, Duffy and I, uncertain yet by what conveyance, to Waterford where I hope to find a letter from Jack, and news about you all.— My journey hitherto may well be said to have been prosperous; I have rather gathered in health, in spite of continual deficiency of sleep. All people are kind to me; it is as if poor ould Ireland flung her arms open to receive.

The weather since this [journey?] began is glowing hot, very bright, airy and beautiful, quite pleasant when one is in the shade. Pieces of the Country are extremely beautiful, and it might all be beautiful if well tilled. But Idleness sits cowering under “the ditches” (dike-backs is the Scotch word), a prey to hunger, and with no scheme of help but that of begging. Since the world began there surely was never seen such a scene of mendicancy. The face of the Earth is defiled with flight of winged tatterdermalions everywhere: I shall not soon forget the sight of the 3,000 of them yesterday,—2 of the thousands, I think, all in one house. A kind of order was enforced, and loose[?] stone-breaking, I perc[eived] [words obscured]: but who could get work or order out of such a set of creatures in circumstances like these!— Ireland cannot long last as it is; no country ever saw itself in such a state before. And the one hope of all persons, or nearly all, seems to be that the Potatoe may come back, when it will be “as you were!”—which is not my hope or wish, for I think it really were better to die than to live as the Irish have long been doing.— You see I have got ink again: it came a while ago, but I did not think we shd much require it till after turning the leaf.

Jane I suppose to be at Neuberg's, perhaps about quitting it this very day. I hope to be at Waterford, then at Cork.— Here are a twig of heath and a leaf of ivy from the Seven Churches of Glendalough, where I was on Tuesday;3 a strange almost ghastly-looking old place, about which I hope to give you account one day.— For the present dear Mother, adieu. By Newspaper or a line of writing you shall soon if I can manage it, hear of me again.— Mrs Cane made me yesterday a canvas cover for my new writing case: kind Lady!4 My blessings with you all. / T. Carlyle